Keepers' Diaries, April 2021

Umani Springs Reintegration Unit

Our Umani herd is growing up. Little Enkesha really wants to speed up this process, so she can join Zongoloni and her band of naughty boys out in the forest. She is still milk-dependent and far too young to join them full-time, but that doesn’t stop her from pushing the boundaries. The Keepers and matriarch Sonje always keep a close eye on her, in case she is tempted to wander too far with them.

01 April 2021

The orphans’ day started off very peacefully with Shukuru taking her time to exit her stockade. Lima Lima seemed very relaxed as well. These two girls teamed up for their activities, which surprised the Keepers because usually by this time Lima Lima would be with Luggard.

As the orphans were walking out to browse Lima Lima took the lead and Shukuru remained behind with Luggard, walking slowly. Luggard let out a low rumble, which caught Lima Lima’s attention. Elephants are known to communicate using a very low frequency, known as "infrasound", which can travel several kilometers, and the Keepers think this is how Lima Lima must have heard Luggard, even though she was such a long distance away. Lima Lima ran to where Luggard was, thinking perhaps something was wrong, but then she saw the young boy was with Shukuru, who was doing a great job of keeping him company. Maybe Luggard just felt like calling Lima Lima for some attention.

The naughty night-clubber boys arrived later in the day, having spent time out with other wild elephants. Alamaya arrived and walked right up to Enkesha and the Keepers knew he was up to no good; before he could do anything though the Keepers chased Alamaya away and ushered Enkesha closer to them so that he couldn’t bother her again.  

02 April 2021

Shukuru took her time again this morning and was late joining the others at the Lucerne feeding area. Instead she went into Luggard’s room looking for leftover greens and pellets and she found a few which she enjoyed. The Keepers came looking for her and found her milling around Luggard’s rooms so the Keepers escorted her to join the others before she got left behind.

Shukuru, as everyone knows, prefers her own company so today she decided to let the herd carry on with their plans while she chose a different route. Quanza decided she would keep her friend company and the two girls browsed peacefully for quite a while. Towards the afternoon Quanza managed to convince Shukuru to re-join the Umani herd, which was a good thing because Enkesha was happy to see Shukuru; she had missed her friend’s company.

Lima Lima and Sonje had taken the whole herd towards the Umani Springs and when the Keepers realized Quanza and Shukuru were looking for them, plus the Keeper who had stayed with the two girls, they started to call out to them so that they could follow the sound of their voices and lead them towards Umani Springs. The orphans and Keepers waited for the three to join them before they decided where to move to next. The Keepers spotted a few crocodile heads bobbing in the Springs and they wanted the orphans to be quiet when moving past so as not to disturb the crocodiles. Quanza and Shukuru caught up with the Umani herd and they all then moved towards the Chyulu Hills.

03 April 2021

The temperature continued to rise all morning and by midday the orphans were looking hot and dusty, and were looking forward to cooling off in the mud bath after their bottle feed. Lima Lima was the first to finish and drop her bottle to the ground, ready for a swim. The insects were also bothering her so Lima Lima didn’t waste another minute and ran over to the mud bath where she knew if she covered herself in the mud, the insects would no longer bother her. 

A small herd of wild elephant bulls arrived with the night-clubbers to join the Umani herd. Sonje had already caught their scent from far away and alerted Murera. Murera turned to Luggard and walked away with him in the opposite direction as she didn’t want Luggard to get caught up in the greetings; they walked deeper into the grass where no one would disturb them. Jasiri and Ngasha arrived and greeted their friends. They looked in the direction of where Murera was browsing in the tall grass with Luggard, but did not approach as they knew the Keepers would chase them away if the bothered Murera. Ziwa and Faraja continue to be a favorite with the older girls, and received a warm welcome.

04 April 2021

The orphans woke up this morning very energetic and playful. They went through their usual morning ritual of greeting each other and some of the younger ones indulged in a friendly pushing game. As soon as the Keepers laid out Lucerne grass for them, each orphan picked their share and went off into their private corners to enjoy their treat.

It was hard not to hear the night-clubbers arriving! The Keepers heard the crashing of bushes and branches coming from the forest, accompanied by the occasional trumpet. The night-clubbers arrived with great gusto, the big boys shaking their heads and flapping their ears. They walked towards their friends with a purposeful stride. All were present except for Jasiri and Ngasha. The Keepers felt that Murera must have been secretly relieved not to have to deal with them. Murera has looked after these two boys since they were at the Nairobi Nursery and then again when they arrived at the Umani unit. Murera and the boys have grown up like siblings so when the boys misbehave it upsets Murera, but she also understands that they are just growing adolescent bulls.

Greedy Lima Lima spotted the water-bowser that brings water to the waterhole sometimes. Mistaking it for the milk vehicle she walked up to bowser, sniffing it to see if she could get to the milk before the others did. Sonje and Shukuru stood back watching their friend, knowing full well that it was not the milk vehicle, and they waited patiently until the Keepers brought the milk at around 11am.  

Whilst the orphans had their milk the water-browser filled the waterhole. Murera walked straight up to the bowser and drank water directly from the pipe. A few buffaloes appeared a short while later, looking to drink from the waterhole, but both Quanza and Mwashoti joined forces and chased them away. 

05 April 2021

A large buffalo herd visited the mud bath today to enjoy eating the grass. They left behind a lot of insects which bothered the orphans when they arrived for their 11am milk feed, so the little babies Enkesha and Luggard sought shelter under the bellies of Zongoloni and Lima Lima. The Keepers brought some insect repellent for the orphans to stop the biting insects from bothering them. Murera and Sonje, realizing that the little ones needed help, walked up to Luggard and Enkesha and started to lead the orphans away from the area.  

The night-clubbers and the Umani herd both followed the older girls to a nicer area but Murera wasn’t too pleased with the night-clubber boys following them too. She thought they might disturb the peace she and Shukuru enjoy when browsing with Luggard, but the Keepers were nearby to ensure the boys were well behaved.

The afternoon spent browsing on the Chyulu Hills was a very peaceful time, unlike the other day, when Jasiri and Ngasha disrupted the peace by chasing and trying to mount Sonje, Murera and Lima Lima, although it seems Lima Lima is starting to enjoy some of the attention she is receiving from the bulls! 

As the sun dipped in the sky, Shukuru and Enkesha organized the herd and led everyone back to the stockades at a leisurely pace. As soon as they got to the stockade gate, the night-clubbers went their separate way leaving the Umani herd to settle in for the night.

06 April 2021

The morning started out very calm and easy for all of the orphans, and they all took their time coming out of their night stockades. None of the orphans seemed to be in a hurry, so the Keepers took it easy too. All the orphans had their milk bottles and feasted on the Lucerne that the Keepers laid out for them, while Sonje stopped to dust herself and scratch on the loading bay before following her friends out to the Umani Springs.

The babies were quite thirsty and Enkesha as usual, our curious and eager little girl, was the first to reach the Springs. She waded into the water to drink water and splash with her feet. Unbeknownst to her, there was a crocodile very close to the where she was, but Lima Lima had already spotted the crocodile head bobbing in the water and was quick to warn Enkesha. Lima Lima didn’t mean to startle the little girl but perhaps Enkesha was so engrossed in her splashing game that Lima Lima’s sudden presence scared her and she let out a rather loud trumpet, scaring not only the other orphans and the Keepers but the crocodile too, and the rest of the crocs that were basking in the sunshine on the bank! The noise startled the crocodiles and they all jumped into the water and swam away.  

Quanza and Sonje took over leadership of the Umani herd and decided perhaps it was better to move away from the Springs and led the orphans towards the Chyulu Hills. It seems that this was the right decision as there was no sign of any other wild elephants or wild animals in the vicinity. The cool breeze blowing through the trees, the soft sunshine and the tranquility seemed to restore the much need calm and the orphans settled into their browsing. The Umani herd happily stayed here until was time for their midday milk feed, after which they returned to the Chyulu Hills again for the rest of the day.

07 April 2021

The two night-clubber boys, Alamaya and Faraja, arrived this morning with a small wild elephant family. They seemed very pleased with themselves, shaking their heads and flapping their ears as they walked purposefully towards the Umani Herd, stopping to greet every member of the stockade-dependent orphans. The wild family chose to stand at a distance and observed Alamaya and Faraja interacting with their friends and the Keepers.  

Murera and Sonje didn’t seem too keen to meet the newcomers and made it very obvious when Murera walked away with Luggard. After a while, Sonje and Shukuru also joined Murera where she was browsing with her precious boy Luggard. Meanwhile, Lima Lima was happy to welcome the wild family and mingled with them. She also flirted with Faraja and allowed him to chase her. Faraja chased Lima Lima all the way towards the Umani Hills where Quanza and Mwashoti had found plenty of vegetation and were browsing peacefully.

Towards the afternoon the Keepers spotted two male antelopes sparing, probably over territory as there were no female antelopes in sight. The slightly older and bigger buck over powered the younger antelope, chasing him away. The younger buck, conceding defeat ran towards the forest where Ngasha and Ziwa were browsing. The sudden arrival of the antelope startled the two big bulls, sending them running off and the rest of the herd into a blind panic. No one really seemed to know what they were running from until the Keepers realized there was no real threat, and that it was just the antelope that had startled the bulls that caused such a commotion. The Keepers managed to settle the orphans, but Shukuru and Enkesha had run off quite far so the Keepers had to call out them to return; after that, the two girls stayed close to the Keepers until they got home to the stockades. 

08 April 2021

The elephant’s routine was slightly disrupted this afternoon, when the heavens opened and it rained quite heavily. The morning had started off very bright and sunny with not a cloud in the sky, so the Keepers weren’t prepared at all. As Lima Lima and Murera tried to shield Luggard from the heavy downpour, the Keepers rushed back to fetch some umbrellas. They then walked Luggard back to his stockade so that he could stay dry and warm in his room.

Today the night-clubber boys tried to entice Enkesha to join them. Faraja and his friends started to walk away with Enkesha, separating her from the rest of the dependent herd. Zongoloni caught on to their plan very quickly and followed Enkesha and the boys closely, all too happy for Enkesha to be joining them out in the forest! Little Enkesha is always very excited to be included in what the big boys are doing, so followed them happily, unaware of their scheme to get her to join the night-clubber herd. The Keepers noticed Enkesha’s absence and with the help of Sonje they were able to retrieve the little girl. Enkesha is still far too young to leave the Umani herd, as she is still milk dependant and has a long way to go before she learns the skills of how to survive out in the wild.  

Enkesha returned rather dejected at not being allowed to hang out with her older friends, but Shukuru took her under her wing. This older girl knows Enkesha well and was seen being affectionate towards her, rumbling at her in a comforting manner. After a while Enkesha was back to her vibrant self. Perhaps Shukuru communicated to Enkesha that she was not ready to leave the Umani herd yet, but that her time will come. When it was time for the orphans to go home, it was Shukuru and Enkesha who took the lead and this made Enkesha very happy.

09 April 2021

This morning as Enkesha was finishing her milk in her room, her neighbour, Shukuru, put her long trunk into Enkesha’s room and tried to grab Enkesha’s empty milk bottle that she had dropped. Before Shukuru could pick it up however the Keeper picked the bottle up and left. Looking around to see what else was within reach, Shukuru decided to steal some of Enkesha’s greens as though it was payback for when Enkesha had stolen Shukuru’s greens the other night.  

The only orphan, out of the whole Umani herd, who never steals any food or is ever any trouble, is our dear sweet boy Luggard; this boy continues to be gentle and humble. It has now been just over a year since Enkesha and Luggard arrived at Umani Springs and for the Keepers it has been wonderful to see how well both these babies have settled and become an integral part of the Umani herd. The other orphans have been instrumental in making these two babies feel accepted and at home. 

As the sun started to dip in the sky the Umani herd readied themselves to make their way back to the stockades and the night-clubbers gathered around Zongoloni as though to discuss their plans for the night. After a few minutes Zongoloni lead her boys towards the Kithasyo airstrip towards the Chyulus, where herds of elephants sometimes gather at night. The Keepers wondered how far the night -clubbers walk every night to meet up with their wild friends. They often hear the night-clubbers return to the stockade at night with their friends, to stop to drink at the water trough.

10 April 2021

The night-clubbers joined the Umani herd again today. Lima Lima is still a very caring and diligent girl, ensuring her friends and Keepers are warned of any impending danger when they are out browsing. The Keepers have come to rely on and appreciate Lima Lima’s vigilance and keen sense of smell.

After the orphans had enjoyed their noon bottle, indulged in a mud bath and brief dusting session, Lima Lima started to lead the herd towards the forest with Sonje bringing up the tail end of herd. The Keepers spotted about six wild elephant bulls walking towards the forest. They paid no heed but it seems like the wild bulls spotted Sonje. Sonje always seems to attract the attention of wild bulls. They began to follow the Umani herd through the forest, making noise as they moved through the trees and bushes, a sound that seemed to unnerve Shukuru. She broke away from the herd and made her own way into the forest to avoid an encounter with the wild bulls. Fortunately, the six bulls lost interest when they saw Murera and Sonje had little Luggard with them.  

Later the orphans found another mud bath, where Zongoloni, Ziwa and Jasiri wallowed for quite a while hoping that Enkesha would join in the fun and games. The little girl stood at the edge, splashing mud on herself, watching her friends, whilst the Keepers kept a keen eye on everyone, including Zongoloni and Enkesha. Enkesha was hoping to sneak away with Zongoloni unnoticed but one of the Keepers spotted the two on the move and managed to call Enkesha back.

11 April 2021

This morning the orphans enjoyed a leisurely start. Some, after finishing their milk, made their way to the water trough, some settled in the lucerne corner, whilst others dusted and scratched their bottoms on the edge of the loading bay.

The Keepers heard trumpeting coming from a distance and the reaction from the Umani herd made it very clear that the night-clubbers were on their way to the stockades and signaling their friends to wait for them. The Keepers didn’t rush the orphans to start their morning browsing activities, but Murera and Sonje seemed restless. Perhaps the idea of Ngasha and Jasiri joining them made them want to make a head start leaving those two boisterous boys behind. Murera in particular did not enjoy all the chasing and mounting these boys seemed to want to engage in, so when Zongoloni arrived only with Alamaya, Faraja and Ziwa, the two girls must have felt a sense of relief. After the usual greetings, everyone set out toward the browsing fields.

Without Ngasha and Jasiri chasing the girls and causing all sorts of commotion, the afternoon went rather peacefully, all the orphans browsed in their separate clusters - Zongoloni with Enkesha, Alamaya with the boys, Shukuru with Quanza and Murera and Sonje with Luggard. Perhaps both Ngasha and Jasiri knew their behaviour was not very welcome by the Umani herd and so decided to stay away. The Keepers did call out to them as they walked with the orphans but there was no sign of them today.

12 April 2021

This morning there was a whole lot of trumpeting. Enkesha and Mwashoti were in such a happy mood. They were running around, chasing each other and trumpeting as they went along.  Their happy jovial mood seemed infectious as Shukuru, who is always rather reserved, joined in the fun too. Shukuru and Quanza chased each other through the forest almost like a game of catch. The Keepers watched joyfully as their babies ran around, pushing each other in a playful manner; it was a wonderful sight to see such happy babies.

The Umani herd eventually made their way to the Umani water springs, where Lima Lima and Sonje decided to cool their feet in the water. Instead of checking first, Lima Lima waded into the water and stepped on a sleeping crocodile. The crocodile’s scaly cold skin must have startled Lima Lima as she jumped back with a loud trumpet, startling Sonje who was nearby. Both girls ran out of the water, scaring the rest of the orphans and the Keepers. Murera jumped into action assuming danger was nearby, ushering Luggard away from the Springs, with Shukuru following them. The rest of the orphans also scampered to safety without knowing what they were running from. The Keepers finally got all the orphans together and guided them out of the forest towards the open fields. They had also spotted a lone male buffalo in the forest, so planned their route accordingly, leading them away from the buffalo.  

Later the older girls guided the orphans towards the Chyulu Hills. Alamaya and Zongoloni were nearby and decided to join their friends. Alamaya, who has been out in the wild with the night-clubbers for awhile now, took the lead of the orphans, since both he and Zongoloni are very familiar with the Chyulu area, and showed the dependent orphans where all the best vegetation was to eat. Alamaya seemed to forget he was leading the herd for a moment, when he saw a bushbuck and began to chase it! Zongoloni had to trumpet at him to remind him to return to his duty of leading the herd.

13 April 2021

Ngasha arrived very early this morning at the stockades. The Keepers noticed he was on his own without any wild friends or his night-clubber friends. They thought perhaps Zongoloni and the rest of the boys would join them later.

The Keepers waited for a while to see if the others were on their way and even called out to them, but after a few minutes the rest of the herd was getting restless so everyone set out for the browsing fields. Ngasha was particularly well behaved today. He stayed away from the female elephants and chose to browse close to Alamaya. The Keepers did wonder why Ngasha was on his own; they thought perhaps, because of his past behavior, the night-clubbers had decided it was better for Ngasha to spend some time on his own. Even though Ngasha was on his best behaviour Murera and Sonje were wary of him and made sure that they kept their distance from the big bull, and kept Luggard away from him too. 

Shukuru also chose to not to be anywhere near Ngasha. In the past, whenever Ngasha and Jasiri would join the Umani herd and misbehave, Shukuru made sure to stay away from the two boys and would be seen browsing away from the herd on her own. Shukuru has always preferred peace and quiet!

14 April 2021

Whenever Faraja chooses to visit, the Keepers are so proud of how this bull is turning out. Recently we have noticed how gentle and calm he is.

Today, Faraja was making his usual rounds of greeting everyone in the Umani herd, including Mwashoti. As he approached Mwashoti, the younger bull walked up to Faraja as though to stop him from getting to the rest of the herd. Mwashoti wanted Faraja to know that he was the main bull of the dependent herd and was in charge of protecting them! Faraja, who has matured a great deal in the past few months, didn’t rise to Mwashoti’s display, even when Mwashoti tried to push him to showcase his strength. Faraja is obviously much bigger in size and strength compared to Mwashoti, and could have easily engaged the younger bull into a fight, but instead he chose to side step Mwashoti and join Zongoloni and Ziwa where they were browsing. Ziwa is another bull who is very similar in temperament to Faraja and is usually humble and calm.  The Keepers are very proud to see the progress these two bulls are making.

At the waterhole, Lima Lima took it upon herself to test the waters. She saw that Sonje, Zongoloni and the boys were looking to wallow so she walked ahead and once she had checked all was okay, she communicated to the rest of the herd that it was okay to wallow. 

The afternoon brought more rain! The Keepers quickly started to move Murera and Luggard back to the stockades, but Lima Lima, who is protective of Luggard as well, insisted on walking back to the stockades with them, instead of staying back with the rest of herd. They all got back to stockades where Luggard then retired to his warm and dry room and the Keepers laid out some greens and Lucerne for him and the two older girls to enjoy too.

15 April 2021

Alamaya is known for his rumbling; all the Keepers know that when Alamaya rumbles, it is to get their attention or the attention of someone in the herd.

Today we had someone come to repair the water troughs at Umani. This newcomer was not used to Alamaya and so when Alamaya rumbled at the young man to greet him, he got a fright and ran off. The Keepers nearby laughed at the comical situation, as they watched a confused Alamaya, who could not understand why the man had run away when all Alamaya was trying to do was to greet him. After a while it dawned on Alamaya that this stranger might be afraid of him, so Alamaya moved away so as not to scare him anymore and the Keepers explained to the young man that Alamaya was only rumbling him in greeting. Reassured, the young man returned to complete the repair work on the water troughs.  

Joy, our adopted antelope, who also got a fright from the earlier commotion, came out of her hiding place once calm had been restored. Enkesha spotted her right away and chased little Joy, running after her and blowing trumpets at her. Joy is tiny and agile and in a few hops and jumps she had disappeared into the bushes leaving Enkesha looking for her.  

16 April 2021

Zongoloni, Alamaya, Jasiri and Faraja arrived very early this morning; the sun hadn’t even risen and these four were already at the stockade gate.

Instead of waiting patiently, these noisy night-clubbers proceeded with their pushing and charging games, making so much noise that it woke Enkesha and Luggard from their deep slumber. It wasn’t even time to make the milk yet, so the Keepers were still in their quarters too. The noise also woke up Lima Lima and Quanza, and the greedy girl that Lima Lima is thought that she was late for her bottle and started to push on her gate. All this caused a lot of the confusion for the orphans so the Keepers had to come out and settle them down. All the orphans went back to sleep except for Luggard, who decided he would feast on his leftover Lucerne pellets from last night as he waited patiently for morning to arrive and when the Keepers would give him his bottles. 

When the Keepers finally opened the gate to their rooms Enkesha didn’t even bother with her bottle and instead she dashed out, as she had already spotted Zongoloni. Zongoloni was just as excited to see the little girl as she too had been waiting for so long. The Keepers finally convinced Enkesha to have her milk, and then she joined Zongoloni in the Lucerne feeding area. The Keepers kept a keen eye on Zongoloni, as they are well aware that given the slightest chance, Zongoloni will entice her little friend to join the night-clubber herd. Zongoloni was aware of the Keepers monitoring her so she too was careful not to sneak off with Enkesha.

17 April 2021

Ngasha joined the Umani herd today, much to the disappointment of the older girls, and he wasn’t so well-behaved today. He didn’t waste any time in chasing around after the girls, but they too know how to deal with him now.

His attempt to chase Murera ended up in quite a comical situation - Ngasha was chasing Murera and somehow, because Murera had the slight advantage of a head start, she managed to out-run Ngasha and hide in some thick bushes. In his pursuit Ngasha lost his way and stumbled over a fallen tree. When Mwashoti saw Ngasha on the ground, he ran over thinking that Ngasha was ready to play and so started to climb on Ngasha’s back, much to the irritation of the older bull.  

Ngasha wasn’t happy at all to have Mwashoti on his back, especially because this meant that Murera was getting away he would have to give up his chase. Ngasha pushed Mwashoti off his back and instead turned around and started chasing the younger bull, but today was not Ngasha’s day, as Mwashoti managed to dodge his friend and disappear into the forest. Dejected and annoyed, Ngasha was forced to give up the chase. Ziwa and Faraja’s arrival put a stop to all of Ngasha’s naughty behavior. Ngasha knows these two bulls out-rank him and he would be reprimanded by them, should he cause any trouble.

When Murera was trying to get away from Ngasha, Sonje stepped in right away to take over Luggard duty. Ziwa and Faraja knew that little boy Luggard gets nervous sometimes, so they made sure to stay close to Luggard in case Ngasha decided to set his sights on Sonje. They knew that Ngasha would not approach the duo if both Ziwa and Faraja were nearby.

Towards the afternoon the Umani herd moved towards the Chyulu Hills, where they feasted on plentiful browse and the Keepers were able to relax a bit, but not for too long! Enkesha caught the scent of some wild buffaloes nearby and blew a trumpet alerting the Keepers. The Keepers, with the help of Mwashoti, swiftly moved all the orphans away from the approaching buffalo herd. Once all the orphans and Keepers were safe, as a final act of showcasing his male dominance, Mwashoti ran towards the buffaloes, trumpeting at them, sending them scattering in all directions.

18 April 2021

Today will be well remembered by the Keepers, as the day when a wild bull visited the stockades and managed to pique Murera’s interest.

This handsome bull arrived quite early this morning and the Keepers spotted him right away, as he stood quietly outside the stockade gates, watching the morning activities as the Keepers readied the milk bottles and put out the lucerne. The bull got his timing right, as, when the orphans were getting ready to leave, he retreated back into the forest and waited until he saw Murera. He gently approached our big girl and at first the Keeper who was with Murera got scared seeing a bull come out of the bushes, but backed off when he saw Murera respond to the bull in a positive manner. Murera walked off with the bull into the bushes and the Keepers could see the two elephants communicating well. There seemed no threat, and so the Keepers carried on with their duties allowing Murera to enjoy the company of her new found friend.  

Murera and her friend walked together towards the water springs where she stayed until the afternoon. When the Keepers saw her next, she was on her own, with the wild bull nowhere in sight. The Keepers felt that he would be returning soon to visit with Murera again.

19 April 2021

It was an unlucky day for Ngasha today. He was up to his usual tricks of trying to chase and mount the older girls, but Murera had the upper hand of the situation.

Ngasha managed to chase Murera and climb on her back but because he is still quite young and inexperienced, he lost his balance and toppled over. Murera took this opportunity to make a quick getaway with the help of her friend Sonje; both girls took-off leaving poor Ngasha on the ground seeming rather disgruntled after failing in his attempt to mount Murera. Mwashoti was quick to take this opportunity to delay Ngasha from getting up to carry on chasing Murera again; he got Enkesha to join him and they both started playing with Ngasha, climbing on the bulls back and trumpeting at him. Ngasha was not a happy bull but somehow accepted defeat, and finally when he did get up, he moved away from the Umani herd to browse by himself. On other days when Ngasha is misbehaving with the girls, the Keepers spend a lot of energy keeping the bull away from the girls, but today was easier with Mwashoti and Enkesha helping out!  

Mwashoti has proven to be a great companion to Enkesha when Zongoloni isn’t around. The two get up to quite a bit of mischief; if not chasing butterflies or poor unsuspecting birds, they spend their free time chasing each other.  

Later in the afternoon, all the orphans decided to make their way towards the Umani Springs. Shukuru, who was leading the herd, stopped abruptly, and put her trunk up in the air. The Keepers saw that she was smelling something and true enough, one of the Keepers noticed a buffalo herd in the distance, so they quickly changed their route. It seems that Lima Lima’s detection skills have been rubbing off on Shukuru and she is becoming quite adept at alerting the Keepers and the orphans of any impending danger, which is a very valuable skill when elephants are out in the wild.

20 April 2021

Luggard wasn’t feeling too well this morning and stayed in his room. The other orphans must have sensed it as well, as the older girls were already at Luggard’s gate touching him with their trunks.

The Keepers checked on him and saw that he had an upset tummy. They administered some medication and gave Luggard time to rest for the drugs to take effect. All the while Murera and Lima Lima stood outside Luggard’s room, rumbling at him and comforting him. A few minutes later, Luggard was on his feet, looking more like himself and ready to follow his friends out into the forest. Murera and Lima Lima gave their little boy trunk hugs as he walked out of his room. The rest of the herd had already made a head start for the forest, and so the Keepers, Murera and Lima Lima took an easy pace that was comfortable for Luggard. 

For the rest of the day, the Keepers and the older girls kept a close eye on their beloved little boy. The Keepers carried extra medication just in case, but it was not necessary. At the mud bath the Keepers were very pleased to see Luggard standing at the edge splashing mud on his chest. This was a good indicator that Luggard was feeling better.

21 April 2021

It’s been a while since we saw Zongoloni with her night-clubber herd. She leads and manages her band of unruly boys with the help of her good boys Ziwa and Faraja.  

Today when Zongoloni arrived with her boys, accompanying them was a young wild bull. He seemed rather unruly, but Zongoloni knows how to handle such bulls. Upon seeing the Umani orphans and Keepers, he started to trumpet at them and shake his head, looking as though he wanted to charge at them. Zongoloni who is a strict disciplinarian knew exactly what to do though. She stood tall and strong in front of the younger bull, between him and her Umani family, and blocked him from moving any closer to the orphans and Keepers. The young wild bull took a few steps towards Zongoloni as though to defy her but backed away as soon as he saw Zongoloni was steadfast in her stance. 

With all of this going on, Murera and Sonje decided it was better to move Luggard away from the commotion and as soon as Murera started to move, Lima Lima and Shukuru followed suit. A little while later, the young bull was seen to be walking towards the forest, escorted by Jasiri and Faraja. Perhaps the older boys communicated to the young bull that his behaviour was not welcome and that it was time he went his own way.  

The afternoon was spent browsing peacefully in the Chyulus. All the orphans had their fill of the abundant vegetation in that area, As it started to get hotter in the afternoon, Shukuru, who was browsing with the her friends, moved away, looking to take a break from the heat and cool off under the shade of the trees, because the waterhole was too far away for her.

22 April 2021

Naughty boy Ngasha has earned himself a rather notorious reputation of being a trouble-maker. Whenever he visits, Murera and Sonje go out of their way to avoid this boy and his tricks.

Today, before anyone else noticed, both Shukuru and Lima Lima picked up on Ngasha’s scent. The Keepers noticed the girls raising their trunks and they knew that this was a signal that either one of their friends would be arriving soon, or that a wild animal was nearby. When Ngasha arrived, he headed straight for Murera and Sonje but this time round, he was out of luck as few of the Keepers were already with the two older girls. Somewhat deterred, Ngasha had no choice but to leave the girls be, much to the relief of Murera and Sonje who were happy to be able to browse peacefully, instead of being chased by Ngasha. The Keepers are also very proud of Shukuru, because as time goes by, Shukuru is becoming quite the expert at picking up scents; her time spent with Lima Lima is definitely helping her fine tune this skill.  

On their way home the orphans came across a troop of baboons blocking their path. Some climbed up the trees whilst others remained on the ground, screaming and shouting trying to scare the elephants. Shukuru backed off but little Enkesha and her partner in crime Mwashoti, took it upon themselves to chase off the baboons. This dynamic duo ran after the baboons, trumpeting at them, until they had chased them up into the trees. Murera called upon Shukuru as back-up to be with Luggard because now Quanza had joined Enkesha and Mwashoti in chasing the baboons. Finally all the baboons were up in the trees but continued screaming as they jumped from branch to branch, calling out to their family to follow them. The forest was finally quiet and the orphans made their way home peacefully without any further disruptions.

23 April 2021

Despite several warnings from Zongoloni and the Keepers, Ngasha continues with his naughty behavior.

 When he arrived today, after having been out all night with his wild friends, he casually walked over to the orphans and greeted them. The Keepers thought perhaps today would be different, as Ngasha was very calm, but as soon as Ngasha spotted Murera and Sonje, he made a beeline for them, but unfortunately for the young bull, the Keeper who was watching over the two older girls today, gave him a very stern warning, not to try any of his tactics of chasing the girls to try and mount them. Ngasha pondered on his dilemma for a while and then decided it would be better to not to cross any lines today. Luggard who was browsing with Murera was also very relieved when Ngasha walked away, as every time Ngasha arrives and chases the girls, it bothers Luggard.

 As the orphans slowly made their way to the Umani Springs in the afternoon, Ziwa and Lima Lima engaged in a friendly pushing game, that started off nice and easy but quickly escalated into a fight. Mwashoti, who is a self appointed peace keeper, intervened and put a stop to the fight. The orphans then moved to the Chyulu area where Shukuru, Lima Lima and Quanza found a secluded shaded area that they could browse at. The temperatures continue to climb and after a while, Enkesha and Mwashoti snuck off to the nearest waterhole to wallow, instead of resting under the shades like the other orphans. They had a great time splashing and playing and cooling off in the mud.

24 April 2021

Seems like Ngasha’s shenanigans of chasing girls has finally caught up with him, the poor bull; when he arrived this morning, the Keepers could see he was limping. They contacted the Vet immediately and whilst the Keepers waited, they tried to get a closer look at Ngasha’s foot, but he was in a lot of pain and wouldn’t let the Keeper’s get close.

The Vet arrived soon after, but Zongoloni was on high alert, sensing Ngasha was not ok; she stood between the Vet and Ngasha, not allowing the Vet to get close to the young bull. The Keepers had to pacify Zongoloni with some Lucerne pellets so that the Vet could treat Ngasha. Ngasha was temporarily sedated, and the Vet was able to determine that Ngasha’s injury was a sprained ankle, possibly from slipping on a wet rock. The Vet administered the necessary treatment and as Ngasha re-gained consciousness, the Keepers stayed close to him in case he was disoriented. The bull got to his feet slowly, taking in his surroundings. The Vet was happy to see that Ngasha was able to walk, albeit slowly and with a bit of a limp. For the rest of the day the Keepers stayed close to Ngasha, comforting and re-assuring him anytime they felt Ngasha looked restless.  

25 April 2021

The night clubbers met up with the Umani herd today when they were out in the browsing fields. All the bulls from the semi independent herd gathered around our two beautiful girls Lima Lima and Quanza and they all browsed together in a group.

Lima Lima was so engrossed in the attention she was receiving from the boys, that she did not realize how far she had walked with them. At some point Quanza, who had also been with Lima Lima, turned back to join the rest of the herd. Murera and Sonje decided that they could not wait any longer for Lima Lima and moved the herd to a different browsing area and knew that when Lima Lima was ready she would find them.  

When Lima Lima realized that Quanza was no longer with her, she turned and walked back to where she had left her friends only to find that they had moved on, she got quite nervous and started trumpeting, calling out to her friends. Lima Lima knows she has one skill that never fails her. She stretched up her trunk to catch scent of her friends, by that time the Keepers also realized Lima Lima was looking for them, so they started to whistle and call out her name so that she could follow the sound of their voices. So combined with Lima Lima’s excellent detection skills and the Keepers calling out to her, Lima Lima was re-united with her family in no time. Luggard and Murera welcomed her back with big rumbles as did the other orphans in solidarity.

26 April 2021

Ngasha is on the mend and his sprain is healing quite well, except today, he was rather careless and not really watching where he was going, in a hurry to get to the waterhole, he stepped on a sharp stone. The poor boy screamed out in pain and Zongoloni, who was not too far away, browsing with Enkesha, rushed over to see what the matter was.

At first she thought it might be the Keepers, but then she saw that Ngasha was on his own. She checked on her friend and he seemed fine, it was a temporary wobble and Ngasha ran off into the mud-bath and once Zongoloni saw that he was back to his usual self, wallowing in the mud and splashing water with his trunk, she seemed satisfied and returned to where she had been browsing with Enkesha.  

Faraja and Ziwa also joined Zongoloni and Enkesha where they were browsing but decided later to walk towards the Chyulus, where it seems they had caught scent of their wild friends. Zongoloni also left a short while later, perhaps to join Faraja and Ziwa and so Enkesha returned to where Shukuru, Murera and Luggard were browsing. Shukuru is not a big fan of the rough games these bulls play, anytime she sees that they are about to start their boisterous pushing games, Shukuru makes sure to move away.  

27 April 2021

Today Ziwa arrived, with a large wild bull in tow. The Keepers saw immediately that the wild bull seemed hesitant. He watched as his friend Ziwa walked up to the orphans and greeted them and then moved on to where the Keepers were. They Keepers all welcomed Ziwa and they could see that the Ziwa’s wild friend was watching from a distance with great curiosity. He probably could not understand why Ziwa was so friendly with the Keepers; perhaps it was too much for him. With a big shake of his head and flapping his ears, the wild bull turned around and headed back into the forest where Ziwa and he had come from.

Little Luggard who was with his beloved Murera, browsing in the tall grass could not see the big bull but the commotion startled him and he ran to be closer to Murera, who comforted him with gentle rumbles. Enkesha and Sonje had the opposite reaction. When they saw the wild bull run into the forest, they followed him, their curiosity piqued, but the elephant must have gone quite far as both girls returned soon. Maybe they wanted to communicate to the wild bull that their two-legged friends were not to be feared. 

Towards the afternoon, all the orphans slowly made their way to the Umani Springs. Zongoloni was walking along the spring banks and she happened to come across a group of crocodiles basking in the warm sunshine. Zongoloni got so startled that she let out a very loud trumpet, scaring the sleeping crocodiles. They quickly slid back into the water, to avoid getting trampled on by this huge elephant.  

28 April 2021

All the orphans had a very good start to their morning. Enkesha and Mwashoti were in a very playful mood, but Mwashoti was being a bit rough with Enkesha and Zongoloni who was watching from a distance, stepped in and put an end to Mwashoti’s naughty ways.

Out in the forest, Shukuru had noticed some monkeys in the trees, she trumpeted at Sonje, as though signaling Sonje to join her in chasing the monkeys through the trees and out of the forest, so that they could browse in peace. At around noon, when it was almost time for their milk bottles, both Lima Lima and Shukuru started walking towards the mud-bath, they were the first to arrive, even before the milk van arrived. They were also the first to finish and Shukuru watched as her friend Lima Lima, who loves her milk, tried to steal milk bottles from the other orphans and when she failed, she thought she could try her luck at the milk van, but the Keepers knew Lima Lima very well and were already at the milk van, to stop this cheeky milk thief. A very disgruntled Lima Lima walked back to the forest, with her friend Shukuru, rumbling in complaint as she walked away.  

As the sun was starting to dip in the sky, the Keepers readied their wards to return to the stockades for the evening. On their way down from the Chyulus, they encountered a herd of wild bulls. The bulls seemed very gentle and friends and were very interested in Sonje and Murera. The Keepers let the girls mingle for a while and then got the herd moving again once Murera and Sonje returned.

29 April 2021

The Kibwezi forest was filled with the sounds of our playful elephants. For some reason, all the orphans, including the night clubbers were in a very joyous mood.

All the elephants got a full workout running around; Zongoloni and Alamaya were the first to start the running and chasing game and the rest joined in, but not Murera and Shukuru. They stayed closed to the Keepers, browsing and watching their friends. For the Keepers, it is always a proud moment to see their babies so happy and healthy. After a while Lima Lima came to check on her baby Luggard and decided to relieve Murera and Shukuru off their duties to allow them to browse, whilst she took over Luggard duty.

Later the orphans were joined by Ziwa and Ngasha. Murera spotted Ngasha approaching from the hills and decided to move away as to avoid any encounters with Ngasha. Ngasha continues to chase the girls and Murera does not want to be bothered by naughty boys like Ngasha. So both Murera and Luggard moved away in the opposite direction of Ngasha, to browse further afield. Alamaya and Zongoloni came a across a swarm of butterflies and at first Alamaya started to blow his trumpet at them and chase them, and soon Zongoloni joined in. It seems the mood from this morning still prevailed.  

30 April 2021

A fight broke out between Mwashoti and Faraja. The Keepers are not sure how it started, or who started it, but all they heard were the sound of tusks clacking, when they turned back, they saw Mwashoti and Faraja engaged in a fight.

Alamaya was standing nearby watching his two friends fight; Mwashoti managed to overpower an older bull like Faraja and push him back towards the forest. Not one to concede defeat, Alamaya chased down his friend Faraja and convinced him to join hands with him so that they could defeat Mwashoti together. Both older bulls returned to fight Mwashoti and Mwashoti proved to be a worthy opponent, taking on both bulls at the same time, but also knew that he was being out numbered if not overpowered. Mwashoti relented and backed off. The Keepers almost wanted to applaud Mwashoti for holding his own. Mwashoti is proving to be quite a dominant male in strength. 

Lima Lima and Quanza were also nearby, but decided not to intervene, perhaps because they figured the boys would work it out and also because they were on Luggard duty today. Luggard always took precedence over all other. All the girls dote on Luggard and it is wonderful to see this young boy flourish under the tender love and care of all his surrogate mothers.